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How to Light a Bathroom


Too often lighting a bathroom is low on the list of priorities relative to other rooms in the house. But with bathrooms becoming larger and more elaborate, proper lighting is essential to making the most of the space.

Metro Vanity Light by Tech Lighting

Metro Vanity Light by Tech Lighting

Start With the Ceiling and Vanity Light, Then Work Your Way Down.

First, ceiling–mounted or recessed lighting overhead for general illumination. You’ll also want to light the vanity area with some excellent task lighting, which can be a fixture above the mirror or sconces on either side. And you need to light the shower and tub area. You might also consider strip lighting under wall–mounted cabinets, which makes them appear to float in space, as well as illumination for wall art.

Lofty Vanity Light from Varaluz

Lofty Vanity Light from Varaluz

Your Bath Should be Bright and Clean.

Ample overhead and task lighting are key. But bathrooms are now a room in the house where people are spending a lot more time, so you’ll also want the ability to create an atmosphere that’s relaxing and spa–like. Having flexibility to adjust the lighting is really important, which is why you should add dimmers here just like you do throughout the house.

Monocle Wall Sconce by Rich Brilliant Willing

Don't Overdo It, But Don't Under-Do It Either.

People often have a tendency to pop a dozen can lights into the ceiling to make sure the bathroom is bright enough, but then you end up with a ceiling that looks like Swiss cheese. Everything in moderation. Though, don’t make the mistake of under-lighting your bathroom, because ample lighting is important. Another reason dimmers are key.

Cosmo Wall Sconce by Tech Lighting

Cosmo Wall Sconce by Tech Lighting from Blackjack Lighting

Avoid Direct Down-Lighting and Asymetrical Lighting.

You should avoid light pointing directly down on your head because it will be harsh and unflattering. Instead, position your ceiling light over the walkway area so you’re lit from behind rather than directly in front of the vanity. Asymmetrical lighting is another mistake. Placing a fixture on just one side of your mirror will create uneven illumination and make grooming difficult. Lastly, clear bulbs with filaments are popular these days, but they cast a shadow on everything. Go for something opaque or frosted instead.

Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting


Lighting Your Tub and Shower.

People often think one fixture is fine here, but you usually need two. Equal lighting at both ends of a tub is best. With a shower that’s 3×3 ft. or 3×4 ft. you can get away with one fixture, but if it’s larger you’ll need more. And unlike the vanity area, for safety you should place lighting directly over where you stand in the shower.


Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting

Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting

Say Y-E-S to LED.

Not only are LEDs energy–saving and convenient because you don’t have to replace the bulbs for years, but they are minimal in appearance so you can get a more clean–lined, modern look in the bathroom. Plus, today’s LEDs have more wattage and the light quality is a lot warmer than before, which means you have a more cohesive look when combining them with incandescent bulbs. In addition to LEDs, we love an MR-16 bulb. It works with low-voltage recessed fixtures and gives off crisp, clear light—up to 75 watts—but it’s dimmable, so it’s really versatile.

Need more Inspiration? Take a look at our Bathroom Lighting Ideas.


Bathroom Lighting

Here's a Glimpse of Some of YLighting's Most Popular Bathroom Lighting Fixtures: